Domestic Violence Leave Laws

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Some states have laws that require employers to give reasonable leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. What constitutes a “reasonable” amount of time for leave depends on the individual case, but it is usually for the purpose of assisting law enforcement, seeking legal help, medical treatment, and counseling.

Usually, domestic violence leave does not have to be paid, though an employer may choose to provide paid leave. Some states allow employees to use any of their paid leave (accrued sick or vacation leave) for this purpose. Others require them to use all of their paid leave for this purpose before being entitled to additional unpaid domestic violence leave.

So far, only a minority of states require employees to give leave for domestic violence. However, they include 3 of the 5 largest states in the union – California, Florida, and Illinois. Other jurisdictions, including Washington and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

Most states require that employees give their employers reasonable notice that they will need to take domestic violence leave. However, those states also recognize that there may be emergency situations where notice is not possible. In such cases, employees are sometimes required to provide proof after the fact that they took leave for reasons related to domestic violence.

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Last Modified: 02-16-2011 04:31 PM PST

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